24 October 2016 - Family Lawyers Competing in a Static Market
20 October 2016 - 1000 Lawyers Gather in Melbourne
The National Family Law Conference commenced in Melbourne on 19 October with a comprehensive 3-day program featuring distinguished legal experts from Australia and overseas.
With more than 1000 family law professionals from across the country in attendance, the Conference is Australia’s largest regular legal event.
Chair of the Law Council of Australia’s Family Law Section, Wendy Kayler-Thomson, said this year’s Conference will mark the 40th anniversary of the commencement of the Family Law Act - a milestone in Australia’s legal history.
“The Family Law Act was revolutionary. It created no-fault divorce and recognised the homemaker and parent contribution in property division. It enshrined in law the principle that, when judges make parenting decisions, the best interests of the child is the paramount consideration,” Ms Kayler-Thomson said.
The program includes the Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC, the first Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and the first female appointed to an Australian federal court.
The Commonwealth Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, will address the Conference, along with Chief Justice the Hon Diana Bryant AO and Chief Judge John Pascoe AC CVO.
• Federal Circuit Court launches Twitter account @FedCctCourtAU and
• Chair of the Law Council of Australia’s Family Law Section Wendy Kayler-Thomson told the conference that it is not an exaggeration to say that our family law court system is in crisis. “Access to justice is not just a slogan. A properly functioning justice system is essential in a civilised society. For too long, successive governments, from both sides of politics, have tinkered with the edges of family law funding,” Ms Kayler-Thomson said.
“At the same time the jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in family law has dramatically increased, and the workloads and demands upon all three of our courts has become overwhelming.
“The proper funding of our justice system also means a properly funded legal aid system.
“What we need is action, and that, more than anything, means an urgent injection of funding into the court system,” Ms Kayler-Thomson said.
19 October 2016 - The Conveyancing Capital of Australia is
The population of NSW is almost 30% more than Victoria yet the volume of property transfers in Victoria was 5% higher than in NSW for the three months to September 2016.
And it is not the first time that we have noted that the volume of property sales in Victoria is disproportionately high compared to NSW. In the first six months of calendar 2015, the two states were only 7% apart in property transfers (NSW higher).
What is going on in Victoria and Melbourne in particular? There could be at least five factors:
1. Victoria is now the state with the highest population growth in percentage terms and in raw numbers
2. Melbourne home dwelling values increased by 5% in the September quarter compared to 3.5% for Sydney
3. Melbourne properties are more affordable than Sydney’s
4. There is some evidence that the number of properties listed for sale in Sydney is declining
5. There has been a lot of unit construction in Melbourne
It is not all good news for Victoria as the September 2016 quarter saw a 5% decline in the number of property transfers compared to the equivalent period last year. This still beat NSW which was down by 8%.
14 October 2016 - Sparke Helmore Creates a Professional Services Business
Sparke Helmore is already in the professional services business but its focus is on providing legal services. If large accounting firms can branch out into legal services, consulting services and many other types of services then so can law firms. Sparke Helmore has created a standalone business called Bright Sparke, reports The Australian.
According to Bright Sparkes' CEO: "In my view the full gamut of professional services is required to solve most client issues."
11 October 2016 - RBA Interest Rate Limbo Dance Keeps the Property Party Going
After three solid years of growth in property sales activity the current trend is downward. Property transfers for calendar 2015 compared to 2013 were 25% higher. A combination of more sales and higher property prices have brought good times for real estate agents, conveyancers and state government budgets, in most parts of Australia.
When will the party end? In a sense the party has already ended. The trend is downward. In NSW, for the first nine months of the calendar year, property transfers are down by 7%.
It is as if the RBA does not want the party to end. Interest rates have been reduced twice so far this year, in May and August, by 25 basis points each time. Prior to each of these reductions, property sales were declining by more than 10% as the market couldn't conceive that rates would be reduced any lower.
The RBA defied expectations and went lower twice. Both times it gave a boost to the property market. However the boost only resulted in stalling the decline. The party is definitely thinning out despite the RBA's impressive limbo moves.
6 October 2016 - In a Highly Competitive Environment a Large Law Firm Finds a Strategy to Stay Large and Growth Further
AFR Reports: MinterEllison has expanded into non-legal advisory work. It has recruited a team of Executive Remuneration advisors.
One of the advisors, Mr Jon Finlay said "It's really about focusing everybody from being a trusted legal advisor to being a trusted adviser."
MinterEllison’s Andrew Cunningham said "We think we're unique amongst the Australia legal firms in having the legal and consulting together in one package." [read more at AFR]
From MinterEllison: MinterEllison is delighted to announce an exciting service innovation – the expansion of the firm's suite of offerings to include Board and Executive Remuneration (BER) consulting services.
BER will complement the firm's legal services in Human Resources and Industrial Relations (HR&IR), M&A, Corporate and Tax to deliver efficient, fully integrated solutions for clients.
Jonathan Finlay and his team of BER specialists – Paul Baillie, Angelica Gore and Janine Holland – have joined MinterEllison from a leading NASDAQ global advisory firm, where much of their work involved inbound and outbound cross-border transactions in the Asia Pacific region and global clients based in the UK and US.
"The arrival of Jon and his team marks a significant milestone in the implementation of our firm's 2020 Strategy – which is focussed on growth, capability and innovation – and adds an exciting new dimension to the solutions we offer our clients," Andrew Cunningham, Partner and Innovation and Networks Leader, said.
"As we focus on being our clients' best partner, we are thinking beyond the law to create new and complementary service offerings and to embed these within our firm."
Tony Harrington, MinterEllison Chief Executive, believes the firm's new pay governance consulting expertise broadens and strengthens the support that the firm's HR&IR, M&A, Corporate and Tax specialists already provide to boards and CEOs of domestic and international clients.
"Extending our capability beyond legal services into kindred disciplines is a significant strategic initiative – our new BER team is a great 'fit', and is the first cab off the rank in our suite of non-legal advisory services for clients.
"This addition gives MinterEllison a unique capability and is a first for an Australian law firm," Mr Harrington said.
Based in Sydney, the BER team will work with MinterEllison's specialists to offer its advisory services to national, regional and international clients.
29 September 2016 - State of the Australian Legal Services Market
28 September 2016 - Pro Bono for Startups
Corrs Chambers Westgarth and the University of Melbourne based Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) have announced they have entered into a three-year financial partnership.
Under the partnership, Corrs will: run regular half-day legal clinics (during which MAP founders and alumni can seek legal advice), provide MAP founders and alumni with free access to Corrs’ proprietary legal software designed to helps startups produce legal documents – from incorporation to hiring, all the way to fundraising), and deliver the content of legal-themed “Master Classes” which will be run out of MAP’s Lab-14 office space in Carlton in Melbourne’s north.
“Our partnership with MAP will help us to further connect with the next wave of disruptive businesses,” said Corrs partner Jonathan Farrer.
“We will be able to learn from them, advise them and help them to increase their competitiveness, and in turn the competitiveness of Australia,” Mr Farrer added.
Some of the startups that have been through MAP (or are going through it now) include:
Brosa - "Australia's No.1 furniture store online"
Palette – Producers of ‘cube’, a device that fits in your hand and with one tap captures any colour on any surface.
Cadmus - A startup that is trialling anti-cheating software with a number of universities.
Nura - Headphones that learn and adapt to your unique hearing profile
BajaBoard – An all-terrain buggy at your feet invented because one of its co-founders was frustrated by the small window of time for people to go snowboarding.
CNSDose – A company developing a genomic test to predict psychiatric drug dose requirements to tailor antidepressants to people's individual ability to metabolise the drugs, improving their response.
“As the only legal firm to partner with the Melbourne Accelerator Program, we will have the opportunity to deepen our own startup experience while also supporting the growing culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in Australia,” said Jon Kenton, chief operating officer at Corrs.
27 September 2016 - SAI Global to be Acquired by Private Equity Interests and Exit ASX
SAI Global Limited (SAI) and Casmar Holdings Pte. Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Baring Asia Private Equity Fund VI (Baring Asia) have entered into a binding Scheme Implementation Deed, under which it is proposed that Baring Asia will acquire 100% of the shares that it does not already own in SAI by way of a Scheme of Arrangement (the Scheme).
Over the past 10 years SAI Global has increased its annual revenue from $160 million to $573 million. Total balance sheet liabilities increased by $160 million to $486 million.
A major contributor of its growth has been the Property Services Division which in 2015/16 had $172 million in revenue. A major turning point for SAI Global was its 100% acquisition of Espreon in 2009. At the time, Espreon was valued at $65 million.
At the end of 2015/16 the net assets of SAI Global was $414 million. The offer to acquire the company values its shares at $1.1 billion.
The new owners will undoubtedly be pursuing a truly global growth strategy for the company.
Under the terms of the Scheme, SAI shareholders will be entitled to receive $4.75 in cash per SAI share (Scheme Consideration), subject to all applicable conditions being satisfied or waived and the Scheme being implemented.
The offer price represents an implied fully diluted market capitalisation of $1,079 million and an implied enterprise value of $1,237 million. This implies an EV/EBITDA multiple of 9.4x for the financial year ended 30 June 2016.
The Scheme remains subject to certain terms and conditions including:
· SAI shareholder approval
· Court approval
· The Independent Expert concluding that the Scheme is in the best interests of SAI shareholders
· Receipt of FIRB approval
· No “Material Adverse Change” or “Prescribed Occurrences”
26 September 2016 - Patent Attorneys vs Lawyers – Aliens vs Cowboys?
20 September 2016 - The Legal Forecast Organisation and Janders Dean Announce Partnership
19 September 2016 - Owen Hodge Lawyers Expands to Wollongong
Owen Hodge Lawyers has expanded to the Wollongong and Illawarra region, opening an office which will specialise primarily in Family Law.
The move is in response to the region’s significant growth in the last five years. Now with a population of over 200,000, Wollongong has become a significant economic and business hub in NSW.
Owen Hodge Lawyers' Managing Partner, Rolf Howard, said, “Owen Hodge Lawyers has a long history supporting clients in greater Sydney. We’re pleased to be able to further expand our reach into Wollongong and the Illawarra.”
“With Wollongong and the Illawarra’s continued growth, we saw an opportunity to meet the region’s growing need for legal services. The region has strong business networks and is experiencing continued population growth, which made the strategic decision to expand there an easy one.”
“Our commitment to provide competitively priced and high quality legal services has served our clients well in Sydney, and we are excited to provide that same quality service to a broader range of clients in the Wollongong and Illawarra region. We look forward to becoming a part of the region’s dynamic business community.”
Owen Hodge Lawyers' Wollongong office will provide extensive family law services including legal advice and assistance surrounding separation and divorce proceedings, marriage and de facto relationships, managing child custody disputes, pre and post-nuptial agreements and complex financial issues following the breakdown of a relationship. Owen Hodge Lawyers' Family Law team are well-equipped to deal with any family law issue presented to them in a safe and professional environment.
16 September 2016 - Slater and Gordon to Exit Residential Conveyancing - AFR Reports
Click image to read at AFR.com (subscription)
14 September 2016 - Shine Lawyers - The Profitability Challenge
7 September 2016 - Who Will Prevail Amongst the Listed IP Firms?
5 September 2016 - White and Case Launches in Australia with Ten Partners Moving from HSF
White & Case LLP has confirmed it will be opening in Australia for the first time with offices in Melbourne and Sydney, to strengthen its global project finance practice. Ten partners from Herbert Smith Freehills have agreed to join White & Case in the Asia Pacific region: Brendan Quinn, Andrew Clark, Alan Rosengarten, Josh Sgro, Tim Power, Jared Muller and Joanne Draper in Melbourne, Joel Rennie in Sydney, Fergus Smith in Hong Kong and Matthew Osborne in Singapore.
Chairman Hugh Verrier said, “This move will cement our position as the leading law firm in project finance globally. It adds further strength to our client offering and underlines our commitment to providing the highest quality advice to our clients on a global basis.”
“Asia-Pacific is an important region for White & Case where our strategy is to build on the Firm’s global strengths and continue developing our client offering,” added partner Eric Berg, Head of Asia. “This represents an important strategic step as we continue to grow our role advising clients across the Asia-Pacific region on their most complex, cross-border matters.”
White & Case will have 40 offices in 28 countries following the opening of the new offices in Australia. The Firm’s Asia-Pacific presence also includes offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo as well as an association in Jakarta.
5 September 2016 - 700 Jobs Gone So Far at Slater and Gordon
Last year, at 30 June 2015, Slater & Gordon employed 5,350 people: 1,400 in Australia and 3,950 in the UK. This year, by 30 June 2016 the number was down by 710 to 4,640. Ninety percent of the job reduction was in the UK.
Staff reductions, described as “ceasing operations in some locations” and “re-sizing the workforce” will be “substantially completed by early 2017,” according to the company.
At 30 June 2016, Slater & Gordon had $1.4 billion of liabilities on its balance sheet. Cash receipts from customers for the financial year was $1.06B.
The company reported: “Net operating cash flow improved materially in H2 FY16 to an outflow of $20.9m (H1 FY16: outflow of $83.3m). The Company recognises that significant improvement is still required to restore cash flow, however the trend is positive with H2 FY16 GOCF just over break even when normalised for non-recurring restructuring payments.”
In FY2016 Slater & Gordon spent a hefty $36 million on consultants, part of which was in response to an ASIC investigation.
The law firm has massively increased its expenditure on advertising and marketing. In FY2016 the company spent $136.5 million. This represents more than $2.5m per week and is a substantial increase as a percentage of revenue compared to previous years.
30 August 2016 - Inefficiency and Poor Tech is Worse than Less Remuneration
28 August 2016 - LawAdvisor New Capital Raising
LawAdvisor has now raised more than $1m. Founder says growing fast with over 25 consultations a day and more than 1000 registered lawyers on the website.
25 August 2016 - 2016 Legal Innovation Index Winners
23 August 2016 - IP Firms Consolidation Continues With Latest Multi-Million Dollar Acquisition
ASX listed Xenith IP Group Limited has announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to acquire the businesses and brands of Watermark Group ("Watermark").
Watermark is one of Australia's longest established intellectual property practices, employing more than 90 people nationally including more than 30 intellectual property professionals. It has offices in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
According to Xenith's announcement, Watermark has a market share of approximately 4% of Australian patent filings.
Xenith expects the acquisition to be EPS accretive on a FY17 underlying basis', with Watermark expected to contribute future maintainable EBITDA of c.$2.5 million.
The estimated purchase consideration of A$19.5 million will comprise approximately 50% Xenith shares (escrowed for two years) and 50% cash.
Xenith has successfully completed a Placement to institutional and sophisticated investors raising $6.9 million to partially fund the cash component of the purchase consideration. In addition to the Placement, a share purchase plan will be offered to eligible shareholders.
The acquisition is expected to be completed in early October 2016.
23 August 2016 - Plaintiffs Receive Nothing from $5.1m Court Win
Figures sourced from article (link below) in The Australian
The $5m court win was supposed to pay the entitlements of more than 300 sacked Huon Corporation workers. The system of justice operating at its worst; arguably worse than secret bribery and corruption. Are contingency fees a solution?
18 August 2016 - IPH Limited Impresses with Financial Results
18 August 2016 - Landmark decisions pave the way for cash strapped meritorious cases to proceed
16 August 2016 - Ally Law to Compete With Global Firms
9 August 2016 - Walker Kissane and Plummer has Merged with Owen Hodge Lawyers
8 August 2016 - The Future of the Legal Profession As We See It Today
4 August 2016 - Mandatory Electronic Conveyancing Now on the Agenda
4 August 2016 - LegalVision Obtains Another $4.2m Funding from Gilbert + Tobin
LegalVision has raised $4.2 million in series B funding led by top-tier law firm, Gilbert + Tobin.
It’s the second time Gilbert + Tobin have led an investment round for the business, having also been involved in the startup’s round in November 2015. Read more
2 August 2016 - Legal services can be everything we want it to be
Legal services can be affordable for the masses; it can be delivered online; it can be produced efficiently - even for contentious and litigated matters - and in all segments of the market, it can be profitable for lawyers.
A community of people who share this vision for legal services, come together at the annual Sinch Conference. They openly share their experiences, including successes and failures, and provide inspiration and resources to each other.
Almost all of the well known innovators and award winners in the Australian legal services sector today have been directly or indirectly touched by this community. It has always been an open community and continues to be so today.
In the past, many of the topics covered at the Sinch Conference were considered by the mainstream to be outside the scope of what lawyers should be concerned with. Today, the mainstream is paying very close attention to issues of access to justice, online services and expert systems.
The conference is taking place this Friday, 5 August in the Sydney CBD. Amongst the many scheduled to give presentations are Greg San Miguel of Law of the Jungle, Lana Nadj, who is coordinating the FLIP enquiry for the Law Society of NSW, Nick Brestoff, author of the seminal article "Data Lawyers and Preventive Law" and Professor John Zeleznikow, who is an internationally recognised expert on negotiation decision support and machine learning in law.
The conference organiser and chief visionary is Simon Lewis of Sinch Legal Group. The lead sponsor of the conference is InfoTrack. It is not too late to secure a place. More information at this link.
1 August 2016 - Merger Creates Largest Brisbane-Based Specialist Family Law Firm
1 August 2016 - No Easy Money at Top Law Firms
1 August 2016 - Winners at Client Centricity Awards
27 July 2016 - What Does Business Success Look Like in Professional Services?
26 July 2016 - Pokémon Lawyer Go
For a lawyer, getting free publicity in a local newspaper is an achievement. But how do you get free (positive) publicity across the entire country?
Slater & Gordon Senior Associate, Emma Aldersea has achieved the publicity jackpot by commenting on legal issues for Pokémon players.
“It’s easy for people to be consumed by the excitement of new technology, but keep in mind that ‘I spotted a rare Pokémon’ is unlikely to be a lawful defence if you get into trouble in the real world,” Ms Aldersea said.
“The biggest legal risk for Pokémon Go trainers is the temptation of trespass, especially when Pokéstops are located on private property, such as schools or people’s yards."
22 July 2016 - LexisNexis Online Legal Resources for Community Legal Centres across Australia
LexisNexis® and the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) have entered into a partnership to promote the rule of law in Australia by providing high quality online legal resources to over 180 Community Legal Centres (CLCs) operating across Australia and support better access to justice for the 200,000+ disadvantaged clients they assist every year.
Access to LexisNexis Practical Guidance, CaseBase and other core research products with practical and current content, will support CLC staff (and CLCs’ several thousand volunteers who themselves in 2013/14 provided over 775,000 hours of support) as they advise clients on a wide range of issues. The online format ensures the content is always accessible and up-to-date, for all CLCs, regardless of their size and geographic location. LexisNexis will provide training to staff and volunteers who will in return assist LexisNexis to design and improve their solutions through research of user experience.
NACLC spokesperson Daniel Stubbs said, “It is essential for CLCs and their clients – disadvantaged people who often have multiple legal problems – to have easy ongoing access to timely, accurate, up-to-date legal information. The LexisNexis package is a highly valued and utilised resource that helps CLCs across Australia to provide high quality and consistent legal advice.”
“Prior to working with LexisNexis, CLCs were more likely to have to source legal content in both hard copy and online, from a range of providers. Access to the LexisNexis online package can help support the efficient operation of CLCs, enabling them to dedicate scarce resources to where they are needed most, to direct service delivery. We welcome this important partnership”, Mr Stubbs added.
“We are delighted to help support the vital role that Community Legal Centres play for disadvantaged Australians who without their help would be extremely vulnerable in the legal system,” said Joanne Beckett, Managing Director, LexisNexis Australia. “By working closely with CLC staff and volunteers, we will also gain a better understanding of the biggest challenges for this sector and be able to reflect that in future design of our content. We look forward to working closely with everyone involved in the CLCs and at NACLC to champion the amazing work they do.”
21 July 2016 - What Percentage of Partners Are Not Partners?
The Australian's partnership survey revealed that around 33% of partners in the law firms surveyed were non-equity partners. 42 firms reported for the survey and mainly included large firms and small offices of global firms.
One out of three law firm partners do not have ownership rights and responsibilities at their firm. They do however get the benefits of recognition in the marketplace that comes with the title of "partner" at a prestigious firm.
Around one third non-equity was the average of the 42 firms. There were a handful of firms where either all or almost all partners were equity partners.
18 July 2016 - Privatising LPI - A Win For Footy Fans
LPI website screenshot
12 July 2016 - South Australia - Straight Line Growth in Property Sales
A gently rising straight line depicts the volume of property sales activity over the past four years in South Australia. The volume of property transfers in the state is now 24% higher than four years ago - based on the first six months of the current calendar year.
Adelaide dwelling values have increased by 2.2% over the past 12 months.
Perhaps this is how the graph would look for the other states of Australia if rock-bottom interest rates were the main driver. Other states have been affected by frenzied property development, such as apartment building; mining booms and busts; overseas buyers and population growth.
The South Australia experience over the past four years may be the best indicator for Australia of the underlying trend in the conveyancing market. It may also be the best indicator of any new trend that emerges.
11 July 2016 - Property Market Cycle - The Mirror Image of WA and Qld
8 July 2016 - NSW and VIC Property Sales Volumes Dip From Peak
6 July 2016 - Law Firms Can Outsource to Australian Lawyers, Working in Australia Under Australian Regulations
5 July 2016 - A Law Office Winner of Best Interior Architecture
4 July 2016 - NSW Green Slip: Rights and Legal Work Slipping Away